December 20th, 2007, 20:10 Posted By: Shrygue
NiGHTS fans have been waiting for a proper sequel to the Dreamcast cult classic for some time now. Sega's attempt to capitalize on Sonic's ring collection mania in a more robust 3D world, NiGHTS was a landmark game for the era.
Now NiGHTS has come back to the masses on the Wii in NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams. So does its predecessor live up to expectations? Hit the jump for our Frankenreview: every thing you need to know about everything that is this one particular game.
You can play Journey with several configurations. Each of them has a steep learning curve, but the remote-only setup will wear down your patience and send little kids crying to their mommas. It's just too tough to keep the remote cursor steady enough that it doesn't skitter around the atmosphere as you try to guide Nights past obstacles. Better to attach a nunchuk or plug-in a classic controller or even a GameCube controller, where the analog joystick eventually rewards your persistent thumb work with fairly smooth flying.
Visually speaking, Journey of Dreams is deliciously vibrant. Each dream world is unique and colorful without veering from the overall art design. From beautiful underwater vistas to a busy carnival complete with exploding fireworks, environments are created with painstaking care. Nights is smoothly animated, though in the ground levels, the children don't move as fluidly. Cutscenes are also well done and often poignant, thanks to expressive facial animations. You will encounter frequent moments where the frame rate dips a tad, but it doesn't usually get in the way of smooth flight.
This time, you assume the roles of William and Helen, two new tykes sucked into the dreamworld of Nightopia in order to better cope with the very modern pressure of living with unloving, often-absent parents. Unfortunately, you'll actually get to know these kids a little too intimately, thanks to an overabundance of heavy-handed, talky cut-scenes that assault the eyes (and ears) with amateurish production values. We definitely liked Nights when he/she was an enigmatic, laconic benefactor 10 years ago...now that it's more of a corny purple Mary Poppins that won't shut up, we're considerably less enamored.
More than half of Journey of Dreams' stages are worth playing through multiple times. Unfortunately, there are a few stages that you won't care to revisit. It's not that they're significantly bad, but they're not much fun either. They lack the excitement and awe-inspiring feeling that the rest of the game offers.
You'll also find odd sections of loading that don't bring up screens or icons at all, instead keeping the screen fully white or black for upwards of 15 seconds with no explanation. If it wasn't for the music playing in that background we would have assumed the game was frozen. This lack of overall polish can be found in virtually any area...
It looks fairly passable unless you are a big NiGHTS fan, though Wii owners who've beaten Super Mario Galaxy may be looking for something new.
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